NAWM Honors Women, Alumni

by Steve Charles

October 3, 2015

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In an emotional ceremony on Saturday that began with a song and was sealed with a kiss, the National Association of Wabash men honored its own and welcomed two outstanding women into its ranks.

Elizabeth Allen H’57 and Professor of Economics Kealoha Widdows H’07 were named honorary alumnae at this year’s Homecoming Alumni Chapel, which celebrates the spirit of Barney Hollett ’36 and pays tribute to outstanding alumni and their service to the College, their communities, and the world.

After the Glee Club led those gathered in singing “Old Wabash,” President Gregory Hess welcomed returning alumni and their families, reminding them “Wabash will always be your home.”

Wabash was literally home for Mrs. Allen, a DePauw University graduate who from 1956 to 1957 lived with her then-new husband, Robert Allen ’57, in Mud Hollow. The cluster of Quonset hut-style structures had been built during World War II to accommodate returning veterans and their families and were austere, to say the least.

“Behind every good Wabash man is an even greater woman,” NAWM President Rick Cavanaugh ’76 noted in honoring Mrs. Allen. “By the age of 27 you were caring for four children under the age of four, and as Bob climbed the ladder with Bell Telephone and later, AT&T, you provided stability in the home. What most people never saw when Bob traveled the world as CEO and president of AT&T was the steadfast commitment you made to raising strong, independent, thoughtful children.

“You also supported Bob during his long tenure as a member of the Wabash College Board of Trustees. You were by his side more often than not, and you were the ultimate “power couple” at our College. Together, your philanthropic gifts over the last half-century have transformed Wabash.”

On Saturday during a standing ovation as Mrs. Allen stepped down from the stage after being honored, her husband walked forward to help her and then leaned over. The couple gently kissed.

A “globe-trotting scholar and teacher extraordinaire,” John H. Schroeder Interdisciplinary Chair in Economics Kealoha Widdows H’07 has led efforts to transform and expand the College interdisciplinary and international studies programs.

“We are told that your name translates to ‘love’ and ‘a great friend who will always be by your side,” said Cavanaugh. “For nearly three decades, you have stood by the sides of scores of Wabash men you have taught, mentored, loved, and cheered on with admiration.”

“You are this College’s window to the world—our ambassador. Your steadfast belief that your students need to see the world in order to be effective leaders in it is seen in the many immersion learning courses you have taught. And those once-unique interdisciplinary immersion learning trips are now the norm across the College.”

In a fortunate coincidence, John C. Schroeder ’69—son of the man memorialized by the endowed chair held by Professor Widdows—was the recipient Saturday one of four Alumni Awards of Merit. 

“Throughout your professional life, you have been a staunch advocate for Wabash and liberal arts education, and you are one of the most faithful — and relentless — recruiters Southwest Indiana has ever seen,” Cavanaugh said in honoring Schroeder, the president of Wabash Plastics, Inc., with the Frank W. Misch Alumni Service Award. 

Schroeder and his family have endowed significant programs at the Schroeder Center for Career Development at Wabash, and John has built an international relationship between Wabash and the University of Harlaxton in England and has provided countless study abroad opportunities for students and faculty.

“Your strong character was evident following a tragic event at Crescent back in 1981,” Cavanaugh added. “After two of your employees were shot and killed by a disgruntled worker, you helped set up a scholarship fund for the victims’ children and stayed in touch with the families for years—unnoticed by the public, but life-saving for those children.

“The word ‘selfless’ falls short in describing your commitment to your community and the colleges that have shaped you.”

Public health pioneer Dr. Stephen Jay ’63 earned the Fredrick J. Urbaska Civic Service Award for his “lifetime commitment to tobacco use prevention and smoking cessation.

“It would be impossible to cite here all of the ways you have doggedly gone about improving public health,” Cavanaugh told Jay. “In 2010, the Indiana Public Health Foundation gave you a Lifetime Achievement Award 'in recognition of distinguished and exemplary leadership in the prevention of tobacco use.' You have been described as 'tireless,' 'persistent,' and 'effective' in your efforts to promote healthy life choices.

“You have demonstrated that one committed individual can make a difference in the lives of millions.”

SUNY-Geneseo Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History William Cook ’66 was honored with the Clarence A. Jackson Career Service Award as “a teacher of medieval history, art, music, and literature, and as an international travel guide without peer.”

“You are a man of purpose, integrity, and abundant talents, and in you our students can see their College’s mission in action,” Cavanaugh said. “You live humanely as an advocate for children—kids who are abandoned or in foster care, or who have little chance for any kind of life or education. You give them care, hope, and education—gifts from your heart and soul.

Indiana Sports Corporation President Ryan Vaughn ’00 was honored with the Jeremy Wright Young Alumnus Award. Cavanaugh listed Vaughn’s election to the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council at age 29, his presidency of that council, his work with Visit Indy, Downtown Indy, the Super Bowl Host Committee, and the NCAA Final Four Host Committee. Vaughn also served as chief of staff to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard before moving to Indiana Sports Corp.

“Wabash prides itself on producing well-rounded, thoughtful men who do things right and do the right thing,” Cavanaugh said. “You are living proof of what a liberally educated person with integrity and a clear vision can accomplish, no matter how old.”

Aurelian Bukatko ’73  and John Castro ’97 were named NAWM Career Services Fellows for their commitment to helping Wabash graduates be better prepared to take on the challenges that await them after college.

“You have made it a personal mission to strengthen the programming of the Schroeder Center for Career Development, and add innovative new efforts that will help our young men compete for top positions in a difficult marketplace,” Cavanaugh told Castro.  You fully dedicate yourself to providing better experiences for future generations of Wabash men, and your passion drives everything you do.”

Cavanaugh thanked Bukatko and his wife, Linda, for hosting students in their Colorado home during last year’s Professional Immersion Experience in the Denver.

“You have made a career out of making good businesses better, and smart executives smarter,” Cavanaugh added. “So it comes as no surprise that our Schroeder Center for Career Development reached out to you for assistance in teaching our young men how to be better prepare for careers after Wabash. “

Dr. David Hayhurst ’83 and Jared Grigsby ’01 were honored for their efforts recruiting students.

“Whether they are your patients or not, it seems as though every young man at Reitz Memorial High School knows of you and your enthusiasm for Wabash,” Cavanaugh told Hayhurst, an oral surgeon. “With your enthusiastic efforts, Wabash is able to recruit a handful of students from your area each and every year, and it is your love of Wabash that shines through in all of these young men."

An English major at Wabash, Grigsby now teaches at Hebron High School in Porter County.

“Over the last three years alone, you have referred 60 students to Wabash,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s a remarkable figure, particularly given the tiny size of Hebron High School.”

 


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